Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Three Questions to Ask Those Who Voted for Donald

The first step to healing the great divide in our nation is understanding. Because many people simply do not understand how that man could win a Presidential election.

muslim american protestFor me, Donald disqualified himself on day 1 of his candidacy when he talked about Mexicans sending rapists. Those aren’t the words of a man who should lead this country.

For others, the epiphany came later. I know Republicans/conservatives who jumped after he mocked the handicapped. Others bailed after his war of words with the Khan family. And others decided that sexual assault is where they drew the line.

But 60+ million Americans never drew that line. Sure, I’ve heard from plenty of Donald voters that their vote wasn’t because of his rhetoric. They were voting because of jobs, or guns, or due to a deep dislike of Hillary Clinton. I will never argue with someone about why they voted – it doesn’t mean I agree, but that’s the freedom of choice in this country.

That doesn’t mean I completely understand it. In fact, I still don't know how someone could have voted for that man to run the free world. I get not voting for Hillary – I do not get voting for him.

So as we approach the holiday season and awkward conversations, I have three questions for everyone to ask Donald supporters to figure out how got here – and how we can move forward.

Why Didn’t The Racism Matter?

This past Friday night, a restaurant that I frequented many times at a previous job became the inadvertent host of a Nazi victory party for Donald. The number of racist incidents since Election Day has been estimated at 700+ as I write this, with a new example seeming to pop up daily. Just this morning, NBC Connecticut reported about swastikas and support for Donald graffiti found at a New Haven school. 

None of this should be a surprise since the warning signs were there from day 1. But for a significant portion of Americans, it didn’t matter. The racism was not disqualifying. They voted for jobs, and ignored the racism. They voted for their guns, and ignored the racism. They voted against Hillary, and ignored racism.

This is the most critical question we need answered from Donald supporters. Because the America I have grown up in didn’t put up with that racist shit. Or at least, it didn’t publicly.

I want people who voted for Donald to explain why. So many have taken offense at being called racist, yet they voted for one. It simply doesn’t make sense to me. If you’re not racist, then why is his racism okay?

What Aspect of His Economic Plan Appealed To You?

Jobs, jobs, jobs. That has been the recurring theme from Donald voters when asked why they voted for him. It makes sense – politicians on both sides have been touting job creation as a talking point for my entire adult life.

But in Donald’s case – what exactly about his plan gives you confidence? The economic recovery hasn’t expanded to the Rust Belt because of technology, not failed policy. Those rural jobs are never, ever, ever coming back. Unless Donald has a plan to re-educate those unemployed workers – and he has given no indication that he does – they will remain unemployed.

Yet there are two significant pieces of his plan that have been touted, so I’d like to hear Donald supporters explain why they support it. The first piece is the trillion-dollar infrastructure plan. Certainly this would create jobs and there’s no question our infrastructure needs it. But his plan would send the debt soaring into orbit – isn’t that what Republicans threatened to shut the government down over? Why is that okay now, but wasn’t for President Obama?

Secondly, there has been much made of “tax breaks” that would come from his proposal. But the details of which reveal that the overwhelming majority of the breaks would go to the wealthy. By reducing the number of tax brackets from seven to three, it could actually increase taxes for some middle class workers. And the removal of the “head of household” filing would absolutely crush single-parent homes – their taxes will certainly go up. This seems to replicate the Bush tax cuts, which furthered the gap in wealth. This is the exact problem we’ve been trying to fix, not exacerbate.

Pushing the racism aside for a moment – I need to know why voters think his plan would be successful, because just about every economist in the world doesn’t think it will. Based on Donald’s extensive history with bankruptcy, I don’t understand why people assume his business ideas are good. I want that explanation.

What Will You Do Moving Forward?

In the days after the election, I heard from many Donald supporters that we need to unite as a country to move forward.

However, those same Donald supporters have been very, very quiet when it comes to the actions that have taken place after Election Day. Steven Bannon is an admitted white nationalist – where’s the outrage? Jeff Sessions was deemed “too racist” to be a federal judge in 1986 but could be our Attorney General – where’s the outrage? Nazis are throwing victory parties and questioning whether Jews are people – where’s the outrage?

The election is over. Denouncing racism should no longer be a partisan activity – not that it ever should have been.

That’s why I want to know from Donald supporters what will they do now. Will you hold Donald accountable for his actions? Will you press that he conduct himself as a President should? Will you balk at a Muslim registry? Will you push back when Japanese internment camps are cited as the basis for policy?

I don’t ask these questions to start a fight – I ask them because I want to know what they were thinking. And I want you reading to ask these questions to start a conversation. We’ve spent so much time yelling at each other that we’re not considering the actual issues driving our country apart.

I’ve blasted the media, particularly cable news, for their focus on personalities instead of issues, so it’d be hypocritical of me to do the same. This cannot be about one man. This needs to be about our country.

Writer’s Note: If you voted for Donald and would like to discuss, my email address is stholeary@gmail.com and I’d love to chat. I will not publish any emails without consent. 

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Monday, November 14, 2016

13 Good Things About the Next Four Years

It can’t be all bad, right? Even though we elected a racist, sex predator who has 75 open lawsuits against him, things can get better, right?

This is going to be a long four years.

trump mandate
I wanted to come up with a good number for this list, so I thought maybe I’d play into how many times he lied on the campaign trail. But the Toronto Star – why did a Canadian newspaper cover this election better than American ones? – totaled up his lies at 560 in the last 6 weeks of the campaign. I’m an optimist, but geez, 560 is a lot.

So I need a new number. How about 13? You know, since 13 women accused Trump of sexually assaulting them in the same manner he said he would. Man, this positivity stuff is going to be hard…

1)    He Doesn’t Want to Govern

Before his win, I read a fascinating article that explained our best case scenario would be another Arnold Schwarzenegger as Governor in California. Arnold was a fellow celebrity who want the enjoyment of winning the office, but had zero intention on doing any actual governing.

Yes, it’s cripplingly depressing to think of that as the best case scenario.

2)    People in NYC and DC Hate His Guts

Trump is going to spend the bulk of the next four years in two places that, with the exception of California, hate him the most. People in New York have been fed up with Donald’s bullshit over the past 30 years, and the vote totals reflected people in DC spotted the fraud a mile away and overwhelmingly rejected his bigotry.

Every time he is in NYC or DC for the next four years, he will be protested, heckled and booed. We will never give him the satisfaction of adoration. Trump wants love. He’s not going to get it where he lives.

3)    President Obama is now a First-Ballot Hall of Famer

We’ve seen Obama’s approval ratings solidly increase throughout the year, as his demeanor proved superior to what we saw on the campaign trail

Think about it – our nation has had eight straight years of economic growth. But, sure, you keep thinking this election was about economic anxiety.

Once Trump imposes his tax increases on the middle class and wipes out affordable health care, Obama’s legacy will only get better. You know how conservatives have been invoking Reagan’s names for 25 years? Obama will get that treatment from liberals for the next quarter century.

4)    Trump Must Follow a Great President

There’s an old adage in sports – you don’t want to be the coach who follows a legend. Why? Because it’s impossible to live up to that standard. Obama set a Presidential template that should never be forgotten. The grace and dignity that man has shown during 8 years of racially-charged attacks – hello, Birtherism – and handing over the office to a KKK-endorsed candidate is how we should want our kids to act.

Our new President-elect spent his Sunday morning tweeting barbs at the New York Times for accurately reporting his views on nuclear weapons. Who do you think is better for our country?

5)    Millennials Are Involved

Hi kids! Welcome to politics! Yeah, you thought America was a decent place where racism is rejected. But shockingly, a country built on slave labor still has some issues to work out.

The good news is that you’re here! We need you. Sure, it would’ve been great if you had showed up a week ago and didn’t toss votes away on Jill f’in Stein, but better late than never. America 2.0 needs our younger generation. Once they realize that the economic growth and dignity of the Obama administration was an aberration and not the norm, they'll understand the importance of activism.

6)    Watching Republicans Mess Everything Up

Is this actually something to look forward to? Probably not, but it’s about time the country realized how horrific conservative policies are in 2016. We’ve seen states like Kansas get obliterated by them, but white people in Michigan and Wisconsin, somehow, don’t think it’ll happen to them.

Ann Coulter, before Election Day, tweeted out that the last time Republicans controlled the White House and Congress was 1928. I don’t think she realized the irony of what happened in 1929, aka, the worst economic depression in our nation’s history. What was the second worst? Oh yes, that came after 8 years of W. Oh yes, and Ann forget the GOP controlled the White House & Congress then too. Those who forget history are doomed…

Here’s the deal, the Republican Party has succeeded in American politics by being the backup quarterback. It’s very easy to push that your ideas will work when they aren’t actually being instituted. It’s why I want Bryce Petty to start for the Jets even though he has given no indication he can start in the NFL.

When Petty fails, the Jets can cut him. When Trump fails, middle America will be broke.

7)    When Trump Supporters Realized They’ve Been Conned

The defining characteristic of every Trump business is a promise of greatness, followed by under-delivering and eventual bankruptcy. Look at what he did to Doral, previously one of the nation’s best golf courses. Trump came in, ruined the course, angered PGA Tour pros and, in a great irony, lost his tournament to Mexico.

At some point over the next four years, 60 million Americans will have their own “see the light’ moment. If they voted for jobs, it’ll be when those jobs aren’t coming back because they never were. If they voted for national security, it’ll be when his draconian policies come back to bite us. If they voted because of the wall, well LOL, that just sucks for those people.

And if they voted because they thought his racist campaign rhetoric would not continue – they may have already had their moment.

8)    US Soccer Losses Are Now Amusing

For the past 15 years, the United States Men’s National Team has dominated Mexico in soccer in our home country. Dos a cero was a rallying cry, for a stream of 2-0 wins in Columbus, Ohio. Well, the US played Mexico on Friday in Columbus. Did we win 2-0? Of course not. We lost 2-1.

Now while I never want to see our national team lose, there was a bright spot – the unbridled joy of Mexicans on Twitter who ripped Trump apart for hours with memes. It’s good to know at least someone is happy we elected a racist.

9)    We Can Ignore Cable News!

I haven’t turned on CNN, MSNBC or Fox News since Tuesday and I may never again. CNN, in particular, was paying people to support Trump. They didn’t have any news background or experience – their job was to blindly defend everything he said.

Hmm, can’t imagine how his racism got normalized?

10) The Eventual Russian Scandal

I don’t know why so many Republicans were okay with Trump coordinating with Russia. They seemed convinced it wasn’t true. Then within 48 hours of Election Day, Russian officials admitted to be in cahoots with WikiLeaks and in direct contact with the Trump campaign. Oops!

The good news is that there’s a smoking gun out there somewhere. And I do believe that many #NeverTrump Republicans will still draw the line at colluding with the enemy, even if sexually assaulting women didn’t matter.

11) The Liberal Wakeup Call

Hey, I’m as guilty of this as anyone. I really believed that average white Americans would choose decency over their own self-interests. Whoops! Never underestimate how selfish white people are.

Seriously – they complain about minorities asking for handouts and then vote for a guy because they whined for a handout of jobs and ow my brain hurts.  

12) Less Tourists in DC!

Okay, this may be specific to me, but damn do I hate tourists in DC – clogging up Metro escalators, taking up parking spaces and generally making it tough to get around. Well good news – no one will come to America anymore!

A British travel company has estimated that 1 million fewer Brits will make the trip to the United States this year. I’m guessing the rest of the world – save for Russia and ISIS – feels the same way about us electing a racist, sex predator. Sure, it’ll further cripple our economy and many people will lose their tourism jobs, but less people on Metro escalators!

13) A Real Conversation on Race

For years, conservatives have derided minorities. Black Lives Matters, Hispanics, Muslims – you name it and they’ve been targeted. Following his election win, that conversation on race is about to become extremely real.

For too long, I’ve let extended family and friends post racist memes on Facebook and not said anything. It’s much easier to de-friend the person putting up pictures of Obama in a noose.

Now, we can’t ignore that. We call it out. If they condoned racism by voting for Trump – we condoned it by not saying anything.

Over 200 hate crimes in 4 days? That’s our America? Sadly, it is. For now. It won’t be like that forever. Time to win our girl back.



You know what, I can’t end on 13 – let’s have some fun.

14) Less People at My Wedding

I have a strict “no racists” policy for any event I throw so, looks like that guest list got a lot smaller over the past week. Yes, I’ve noticed the continued use of the word “thug” in your posts. We all hear the dog whistles now.

15) No More Boy Bands!

Boy bands thrive when people are happy and have disposable income. It’s how you can tell Reagan, Clinton & Obama were successful Presidents. No more of that over the next 4 years!

16) Barron Trump Hates His Dad

There was only one good thing that happened on Election Day and it was Trump’s spoiled kid rolling his eyes at his Dad during his Dad’s greatest moment. Even better, Donald’s mode of parenting is apparently slapping his sons until they act like him. Guess what? A President can’t slap his kid around. Boy, Barron is going to be so insufferable

17) The End of False Equivalency

Every terrible thing Donald did over the past six months was compared to one email scandal. Guess what? He’s not running against Hillary anymore!

How will the media be able to balance, say, a white supremacist as a chief advisor? They won’t! Maybe – just maybe – we can quit the charade about normalizing this behavior. You know, like making a white supremacist a chief adviser.

It’s not all bad. Right?

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Thursday, November 10, 2016

4 Ways I'll Make Sure This Never Happens Again

My biggest pet peeve in the workplace are those who point fingers and assign blame when things go sideways. It’s counter-productive. It’s demoralizing. It never works.

trump seattle protest
This Wednesday, I became what I hate. After the shocking results of the Presidential election, I wanted to blame someone or something. Unfortunately, it was a confluence of events, driven by white people who had been conned into thinking they were being oppressed. We can revisit the past, but we can fix the future.

As I drove home from work on Wednesday – stuck in yet another DC traffic jam – I became very angry with myself. Despite the election, I had a great week. The dog my girlfriend rescued in 2010 had her third successful surgery, this one to remove an ulcerated tumor from her abdomen. This dog was given four months to live in May 2013. She doesn’t give a shit because she’s tough as hell.

So as I arrived home from work on Wednesday and she bounded to me with an energy missing when she had her tumor, I got emotional. I need to be more like her. I need to be tough. I need to start attacking the world with an energy missing when America decided whether it needed surgery for a tumor. Spoiler alert: that tumor was elected President.

It’s time for action. It’s time for me to take action. For too long, I’ve done the bare minimum to help causes. Write blog posts. Share stories on social media. Donate money. It’s not enough.

I have decided that I need to make a significant difference. I don’t mean symbolic gesture like boycotting news media. I mean actions that will lead to a direct outcome.

#1: Stop Ignoring White Privilege

The most disgusting part of Wednesday was reading Facebook posts from people imploring the world to unite and come together after a tough election. These posts were from people who did not vote for the Tumor, but did not vote for Hillary. They also had one other characteristic in common – they were white.

It is the definition of white privilege to not worry about President Tumor, because you, personally, have little to worry about. You know, besides the crippling recession that seems to accompany any Republican in charge of any state or country. When did we stop caring about our fellow man? 

It’s very easy to cut racists out of your life – the people in the deplorable basket are in there forever. But it’s not as easy to cut out those who simply do not get it. These are your Aunts, your Cousins, your former classmates or co-workers. They aren’t bad people, they just live in a bubble. They live in white neighborhoods, they work with white co-workers and they simply don’t get it.

And when pressed on not getting it, they fight back and complain about everything being seen through the prism of race. Why do they say race doesn’t matter? Because they’re white, so racism is not a problem for them.

This is going to be painful but it’s a step I have to take. I can no longer stand idly by while people I love are oblivious. They’ve never walked through an airport with a Muslim. They don’t walk down Mass Ave and see black teenagers accosted by police. They don’t know what it’s like to be told to “go back” to Mexico. It’s an education process. Speaking of which…

#2: Pick An Issue, Mine is Education

The scariest part of this election was how ill-informed the electorate was. They were easily manipulated by fake stories, which we later learned were mostly planted by Russian trolls and teens in Macedonia trying to make a quick buck. But it didn’t stop from people believing the absurdity of nonsense like Hillary purchasing 30,000 guillotines to behead Christians, a new spin on old nonsense.

Unfortunately, this is a fundamental problem in our country. If you look at state-by-state rankings of high school education, the bottom 11 states all voted for the Tumor. Of the bottom 15, only New Mexico was with her. Why do you think that is?

By living with a girlfriend who is a pre-school teacher – both in DC and Northern Virginia – you very quickly realize the serious issues facing our educational systems at every level. It’s only worse in fly-over country, where Republican governors and legislatures have slashed education budgets. We have a horrific situation where the adults are dumb getting dumber while the students are not getting smarter.

This needs to change. My action here will be two-fold. For one, I will stay in tune with key education initiatives across the country and fight for more education funding in any way I can. Secondly, I will work to illuminate the issues surrounding education, in hopes of providing the facts about why our children are falling behind the rest of the world.

#3: Volunteering to Fight Against the War on Women

The man elected President admitted, with audio, to committing sexual assault. In the weeks after, more than a dozen women came out to corroborate similar, sickening stories. Other than courteous statements that always included their wife or daughter, the vast majority of Republicans suddenly forget about their relatives and backed their candidate on Election Day.

I honestly have no idea how a woman woke up on Wednesday and felt that this country cared about them.

And it's only going to get worse, as conservatives remain obsessed with telling women how to deal with their genitalia. The problem in this country is that there are not enough men standing up and defending women – silence is complicit.

I will no longer be silent. Starting today, I will volunteer my time and donate my money to non-profit organizations, such as Planned Parenthood, that provide life-saving services for women. We don’t have a civilization without women, so maybe we should start protecting them.

Similarly, it’s time for the rape culture that has engulfed this nation to be dismantled and tossed into history’s trash heap. We should not need to invoke our mother to reject rape.

#4: Become a Community Organizer

In 2008, Barack Obama was derided – by Sarah Fuckin’ Palin of all people – for getting his start as a community organizer. But it was the foundation that fueled the Obama machine for so long and it was the missing piece in Hillary’s outreach that felt so forced.

What can we do? How can we do? How do we ensure that America’s Tumor is removed as quickly and as painlessly as possible?

I know I’m not alone in this. So beginning in January, after some reflection on the best course of action, I will begin hosting regular meetings of people that want to make a difference on key issues.

To start with, the poor turnout of voters will be an immediate issue. How does only half of our nation vote for our President? It’s a total crock that Election Day still falls on a Tuesday work day – how can we change that?

What Happens Now?

That’s the biggest question facing our country, specifically the majority who did not vote for our current leader. I guess you could say he’s #NotMyPresident. And it’ll be a cold day in hell before I ever call him that.

There’s work that needs to be done to make sure the 2016 election is an aberration in America’s history and not an irrevocable stain on humanity. I don’t know what happens now.

I do know that I’ll be damned if this happens again without doing absolutely everything in my power to prevent it. I have lost faith in many Americans. I have not lost faith in America.

What will you do?

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